|The Scanmar boats were designed on the initiative of the Swedish designer Nils-Erik Olofsson. He designed the layout of the interiors of these boats, and the hulls were designed by Rolf Magnusson; the sole exception was the 25, which was designed by Bernt Andersson. The Swedish firm of Börjesson Brothers manufactured all Scanmar boats. There were six models of Scanmar boats manufactured from 1975 to 1991: the 25, 31, 33, 345, 35 and 40. There were plans for a Scanmar 37, but the company went out of business before these were ever built. |
In 1974 Olofsson designed the Compis which were built by the Börjesson Brothers. Four years later came the plans for a larger boat. The prototype of the Contrast 33, designed by Rolf Magnusson, was displayed at the Långedrags Exhibition in Göteborg. Olofsson felt that the Contrast was a bit too small, and Magnusson offered to design exactly what he wanted: a roomier boat. This was the birth of the Scanmar 33. Olofsson's idea was a boat with roomy interior in relation to the exterior measurements, a comfortably placed toilet, a large aft cabin, and a large forecabin; the dual cabins would ensure that the salon area would not need to be used for sleeping. In addition, he wanted a spacious galley and a roomy cockpit, a strong engine, good-sailing capabilities as well as fast; a foresail which was not too large, and a self-tacking jib. Olofsson had the boats built at the Börjesson Brothers wharf, and sold them through his distribution company Scanmar Boats in Saltsjö-Boo, Sweden. In 1984, he sold 50% of the company to the Börjesson Brothers, and in 1986 he sold them the remaining 50% of Scanmar Yachts, forming Yachts of Scandinavia.
After selling Scanmar Yachts, Olofsson did not rest on his laurels. He went on to design and now builds the beautiful Scanyacht line of sailboats at his factory in Saltjsö-Duvnäs. The flagship boat of the line, the graceful Scanner 391, bears a strong family resemblance to the Scanmar 33.
Magnusson, a native of Karlstadt in Sweden, began his career by designing a boat in 1965 for the Koster Class Association competition. A Koster is a large, traditionally-styled type of sailboat common in Norway and the west coast of Sweden, and used for commercial fishing. They were wide in relation to their length, very seaworthy, with low freeboard; they were originally built of oak, about 40' in length. Only one example of his Koster design, named Tummelduns, was built; it never went into full production. The Allegro 27, designed by Lasse Norlin, was the winner of the Competition.
The Joker was designed for the Half-ton Cup in 1968. It was modified somewhat in 1971 and renamed the Albin Ballad. Rolf has over the years created many boats on his drawing board: the Albin 79 and Albin 57, Kakadu (a One-off boat), Mamba 34, Gambler 35, and the Contrast boats, just to name a few. In addition to designing boats, Rolf has designed and sewn many of the sails for his boats in his own sail loft.
The Börjesson Brothers had their wharf in Bjästa south of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Besides manufacturing the Scanmar line, they also produced Örnvik, Omega, and Maxi boats. After buying out Scanmar from in 1986 from Nils-Erik Olofsson, they both produced and marketed these boats as Yachts of Scandinavia.. In addition to boats, the factory also made gloves. Ultimately, the glove manufacturing was moved to China. Because of the lack of work for their factory, the wharf closed in 1991.
Pelorus Yacht Sales
This company started up in March of 1984 to import and market European-built sailboats, including the Scanmar line, to the American market. Its headquarters was in Hellertown, Pennsylvania but had its main sales office in Rock Hall, Maryland. They successfully marketed the Scanmar 33 and 35, and to a lesser extent the 31, to American sailors who admired the craftsmanship, lines, and seaworthiness of the Scandinavian sailboats. At the time, the dollar was very strong against the Kronor, yet the Swedes still maintained a very high level of craftsmanship. After perusing the Scanmar US price lists from 1985, the Sailing Swede has said that the boats were very reasonably priced compared to comparably-sized US-built boats. My feeling is that Scanmar did not become a household word because of the styling- the boats were all what we now call "Euro-styled" (a cheesy term I detest). At the time, "character boats" were still popular, with lots of teak, springy sheer and tons of bronze. In contrast, the Scanmars were all business- sleek, low-slung, purposeful and fast. I think American sailors were for the most part just not ready for them- they were way ahead of their time. I suspect that many of the Scanmars were bought by sailors who wanted to race and cruise as well. Scanmars were and still are very fast boats.
Pelorus Yacht Sales went out of business in October of 1991, another victim of the imbecilic "Luxury Tax" foisted upon the US citizenry in 1990 by the tax-and-spend Democrats. Overnight, new yachts sales plummeted, forcing hundreds of marine-related companies into bankruptcy and casting tens of thousands out of work. People who could afford to purchase an expensive new boat turned to used boats so as to avoid the tax, so the dumb idea of this tax turned out to be even dumber: instead of raising money for the government (so the Democrats could hand it out), the result was a net loss of nearly 8 million dollars to the government. Some of the finest American sailboat manufacturers bit the dust within a year, including Cal, Pearson, Gulfstar, Endeavour, Irwin, Morgan, Cape Dory, Bristol & Tartan. In New Jersey where I grew up, there were some of the oldest and finest powerboat builders in the United States, some of which had been in business since the 19th century; by 1991, most had gone bankrupt. Hmmm...maybe cutting taxes does work? [In case you are wondering, I had been a card-carrying Democrat until 1991, when I tore up my card. If I had wanted to live in a socialist state, I would have moved to the Soviet Union.] Congress repealed the Luxury Tax in 1993, but by then it was too late- many thousands of jobs were lost and hundreds of businesses ruined forever.
By the late 1980s, a good portion of Scanmar-built boats (perhaps 50%) were sent to the US. The loss of the US market in late 1990, nearly half of the Swedish Company's business, certainly helped to kill Yachts of Scandinavia and the Scanmar line.